Thursday, November 19, 2009

Store your resume, other documents online

Have you ever gone through the process of typing up a document (resume, etc.) here at the library and realize after the fact that you cannot save it to the library computer? If you don't happen to have a USB flash drive (or 3.5" floppy) with you, you'll be forced to either e-mail the contents of the document to yourself (and probably lose the formatting) or printing the document out and only having it as a hard copy.

If you don't want to deal with carrying a USB drive around with you, you may want to consider storing your documents online through a service like Google Documents, Zoho or ThinkFree (for a detailed comparison of these tools, see the July 16, 2008 article in ComputerWorld). These online office software tools allow you to create, manage, and collaborate on most types of office documents (traditional word processing, spreadsheets, presentations) — all on the Web. If you've created documents using Microsoft Office (available on all library public access computers), you can also upload those files (if you're using a library public computer, you'll need to save to a USB in order to upload) and make edits/store with few, if any changes to the formatting. Instead of installing software, these tools let you access and edit your files online. Bear in mind, however, that these free, online services do not include ALL the features/functionality that you'd find in the full Microsoft Office Suite (mail merge, for example), but for most folks using the library's public computers, these online office tools should be more than adequate.

Aside from being free and allowing you to access your files anytime, anywhere (as long as you have a Web connection), web-based applications provide a shared workspace, making it possible for you to allow other users access you files, edit and see changes in real-time. Of course, you're going to be dependent on the speed/reliability of your Internet connection and the vendor (Google, etc.) to keep these tools up and running -- things to think about if you are planning on chucking your Office software. However, for users (like our library patrons) who rely on using multiple or public computers to create/edit/access documents, these free tools are extremely useful.

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